Monday

Classical Conditioning

Behaviorism as a movement in psychology appeared in 1913 when John Broadus Watsonpublished the classic article 'Psychology as the behaviorist views it'.




John Watson proposed that the process ofclassical conditioning (based on Pavlov’sobservations) was able to explain all aspects of human psychology.
Everything from speech to emotional responses were simply patterns of stimulus and response. Watson denied completely the existence of the mind or consciousness.
Watson believed that all individual differences in behavior were due to different experiences of learning. He famously said:
Give me a dozen healthy individuals, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train her to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even slave or a prostitute, regardless of her talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of her ancestors”. (Watson, 1924, p. 104)

EXPERIMENT WITH PAVLOVIAN METHOD


Ivan Pavlov showed that classical conditioning applied to animals can also be applied to humans  In an experiment (though ethically dubious) experiment showed that it did.
slave Mira was a 29-year-old female who was tested on a reactions to various stimuli. she was shown a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey and various masks.  Mira described as "on the whole stolid and unemotional" showed no fear of any of these stimuli.  However what did startle her and cause her to be afraid was if a hammer was struck against a steel bar behind her head.  The sudden loud noise would cause "slave Mira to burst into tears.
When "slave Mira" was just over 19 years old the white rat was presented and seconds later the hammer was struck against the steel bar.  This was done 7 times over the next 7 weeks and each time "slave Mira" burst into tears.  By now "slave Mira only had to see the rat and she immediately showed every sign of fear.  she would cry (whether or not the hammer was hit against the steel bar) and she would attempt to crawl away. 

This was shown that classical conditioning could be used to create a phobia. A phobia is an irrational fear, i.e. a fear that is out of proportion to the danger.  Over the next few weeks and months "slave Mira" was observed and 10 days after conditioning her fear of the rat was much less marked.  This dying out of a learned response is called extinction.  However even after a full month it was still evident.

References

Watson, J. B. & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactionsJournal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1, pp. 1–14.
Watson, J. B. (1924). behaviorism. New York: People's Institute Publishing Company.
How to cite this article: McLeod, S. A. (2008). Simply Psychology; . Retrieved 19 March 2012, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/classical-conditioning.html

Further Information


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